Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is going to have unforeseen consequences.
Since the horrors of the World Wars, war has been far removed from our daily lives. It is something that happens “over there”; even if our nation’s leaders and military play a part, most of us never really feel any direct impact.
Iraq, Afghanistan, the War on Terror; it isn’t as it acts of war are never perpetrated on U.S. soil, far from it. But for the most part, we have lived in relative freedom and safety. None of us are in our cars stuck trying to get out of a city under military siege. None of us are facing a crisis of violence and starvation like people in Afghanistan.
We have forgotten war.
We have forgotten what it means, what it requires.
Oh, we know about the tanks, the artillery, the heat-seeking ballistic missiles, the nuclear warheads and heavy ordinance. We suspect chemical, biological and energy weapons, too. But we have forgotten about the other wages of war.
The economic impacts, privations and disruptions.
Is isn’t callous to consider these consequences in the same breath with the death and devastation caused by war; economic devastation kills more people globally in war than outright warfare.
This crisis in the Ukraine isn’t going to remain in Ukraine.
Russia is forcibly annexing a territory it considers a “province”. China considers Taiwan a Chinese province in rebellion. North Korea certainly has similar designs on South Korea.
The pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong perished of COVID19 long ago. It’s illegal to even run as a pro-democracy candidate now and the last free Hong Kong newspaper is no more. In Myanmar, the post-coup military still rules while the country’s former elected officials rot in prison or have disappeared. In Afghanistan, the Taliban rule; so poorly the Afghan people are already starving to death in a humanitarian crisis of historic proportions.
The Ukraine is soon to be a part of Russia in truth as well as in the mind of Vladimir Putin. Short of a military response, there doesn’t appear to be anything the West can do about it.
Putin has threatened to unleash Russia’s nuclear arsenal on any nation thinking to defend Ukraine with military reinforcements.
He, and others, may soon use this threat as leverage against the West again, about other matters. In the meantime the U.S. has other problems, and serious ones.
Given these troubling trends, the world’s strongmen seem more likely to act aggressively now than not. The U.S. is already, as President Biden warned yesterday, going to endure higher gas and energy prices as a result of this conflict. This is due to our dependence on energy imported from Russia.
When- not if- China invades and annexes Taiwan, there are going to be an even great number of disruptions in the U.S. economy.
We buy a lot of stuff from China. A lot.
Sanctioning China for what it is about to do to Taiwan is going to hurt the U.S. more than it hurts China. The Chinese Communist Party already has plenty of motivation for moving away from its close relationship with the U.S. and shows every indication of considering it.
The flaws in globalism have become only too apparent over the past 10 years and this is another whopper.
Everything globalist naysayers would happen to the U.S. manufacturing industry happened, and worse. From paperclips to life-saving medical supplies, from rare earth metals to silicon chips; the U.S. economy is completely dependent on nations like China and Russia. The leach of globalism sapped the lifeblood out of American manufacturing and energy independence and we are about to find out why that was a bad idea.
Globalism gave us a 20,000 mile supply line dependent on petroleum. U.S. corporations took full advantage of the high-sounding ideals of globalism to exploit low-wage workers and lax environmental regulations worldwide to cut production costs.
As a result of this nefarious accounting, the wealth gap has become, under globalism, a cosmic black hole; a soul-sucking abyss the bottom of which we can scarcely imagine.
How much money do the world’s wealthiest 1% of the 1% have? The heat death of the universe would occur before one person could count it all. Plus, the world’s ten wealthiest people doubled their wealth during COVID19.
Contemplating the boondoggle of globalism at this moment, it might be worth remembering why the U.S. had such a robust manufacturing backbone in the first place, before we disarticulated it one vertebrae at a time.
“The fools,” wrote Homer in the Odyssey, “to slay, for meat, the oxen of the most exalted sun, and blot out the day of their return.” Homer was talking about a mythic homecoming spoiled by greed and avarice, but most of all by inattention, by lack of vigilance.
We had a robust manufacturing capability because of war. After two global wars, the U.S. was prepared for just about anything. In the 70 years since the close of World World II we’ve outsourced much too far under the banner of globalism.
As we stare down the barrel of a future in which there is no more Hong Kong, no more Taiwan; only China. No more Ukraine; only Russia. No more South Korea; Only Korea. Perhaps even no more Greece; only Turkey.
Who will be next?
Global cooperation, peaceful trading partnerships with other nations, participation in world governance bodies; all these are important and will remain important.
American self-sufficiency isn’t nationalism; it isn’t patriotism, or populism, or isolationism; it isn’t xenophobic or reactionary.
It is pure practicality in a time of global warfare, when shipping lines are periodically cut off or destroyed. When even passenger aircraft and freight liners are subject to the utterly unpredictable ravages of war.
During wartime, being able to feed, clothe, and provide for the energy needs of your nation’s population is a matter of national security. It is just as much a matter of life and death as bombs, tanks and missiles.
(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)